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Blepharitis: why warm compresses can do more harm than good.

Eye Practice
Blepharitis: why warm compresses can do more harm than good.

Blepharitis is unpleasant. This inflammation (swelling, redness and discomfort) of the eyelids can often be accompanied by a build-up of scale along the lash line of the eyelids. It looks unsightly and it feels itchy and irritating.

Many people reach straight for the warm compress if they have an episode of this eye condition, but that may be a mistake.

This post explains why heat may not be the best option when it comes to managing this condition.

  

Inflammation loves heat

One of the biggest mistakes people make in treating their blepharitis is to add heat. But the problem is that inflammation is usually made worse by heat. Heat causes the blood vessels in the skin around your eyes to dilate. This means more blood gets to the area. The body’s inflammation response means that the blood carries more inflammatory cells to the area, resulting in even more of the redness, swelling and pain we associate with blepharitis.
 

Try cool compresses instead

A quick, easy and effective way to do this is to cool the area with a cold compress.

This can be done with a gel eye-mask which has been stored in the freezer. Lie back with the mask moulded close to your closed eyes for 10-15 minutes a day. Twice a day is even better!

 

Keep the eyelids clean

The crusting or scale that collects around the base of the eyelashes is actually a biofilm colonised by large numbers of bacteria. This is usually the underlying cause of the inflammation in this eye disease. Keeping the area scrupulously clean will help the inflammation to settle down.

Use an effective lid cleanser to clean the area daily. One of the best systems on the market is called Blephadex. This is available as wipes or a gentle foam cleanser and contains teatree oil.

A professional treatment called BlephEx is an excellent way to remove the biofilm completely from the eyelid margins. It is a bit like the professional clean you get at the dentist. A rotating sponge soaked in a gentle exfoliant is used to scrub the biofilm away. This can be done annually to keep blepharitis at bay, and is relatively inexpensive.

 

What else can I do?

Steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can be a terrific way to get inflammation under control quickly. Ask your therapeutically-endorsed optometrist about the appropriate eye drops for your blepharitis. They will need to monitor your intra-ocular pressure, as these drugs can have the side effect of raising the pressure inside your eye temporarily.

You can also take over the counter anti-inflammatories such as Nurofen or Voltaren. Talk to your pharmacist if you are taking any other medications.

 

Are warm compresses useful?

Warm compresses can be an effective way of improving the flow of oil in the Meibomian glands of the eyelids. This is useful for dry eye sufferers. But the key is to first reduce the swelling and redness before any heat is applied. 

Once the redness and swelling of the lids is under control, warm compresses can be used under your optometrist’s guidance.

Have enough of your red eyes? See the experts. Call The Eye Practice today or make an appointment online.

 

PLEASE READ: The information given under Eye Conditions is of a general nature and is not intended to be advice on any particular matter. Please take the appropriate Optometrical advice before acting on any information given under Eye Conditions of The Eye Practice web-site.


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